The Hidden Leader in the August edition
of Harvard Business Review
abstract highlighted The Hidden Leader and has created an excellent summary. If you would like a complementary copy of the 5 page abstract click
Consistency, Simplicity, and Repetition
The first business book I ever read was Jack Welch's Create Your Own Destiny or Someone Else Will. It was assigned reading for company retreat I'd be attending. I'll confess that I didn't read the whole book at the time, but I got tremendous value from the parts I did read. One sentence in particular struck me as pure gold. It was related to the idea of establishing culture, changing people's minds, and communicating. That sentence, "Consistency, simplicity, and repetition is what it's all about.", shed light on so much.
My experience has been that the power of these principles can't be overstated. But for some reason there is a powerful current toward complicating and zigzagging, with the sense that if something was said last month that everyone will remember and act on it because "we already said that."
Innovation is powerful, and developing new approaches and making improvements has high value in any organization. But it's vital to balance that by not constantly shifting priorities or focus, which is uniquely counterproductive. So when it comes to your company culture, strategy, and other priority efforts, unless you want to be viewed as flavor of the month, let consistency, simplicity, and repetition be your guide.
The best leaders I get to work with are willing to put in the hard work of clarifying their priorities that there is no room for misunderstanding or equivocation. They avoid corporate speak, favoring straightforward language to establish expectations and create a shared understanding. And once they've done this, they weave those ideas in to every communication and every interaction. The results are powerful. It's simple, but not easy.
A slice of life balance
The simplicity, consistency, and repetition principle has plenty of individual application, but I'll highlight its power in humor. I've made plenty of comments with a sincere intention to create laughter and heard crickets. Next time it happens to you, don't despair. Try, try, again. David Letterman was a master of this technique and if a laugh line bombed, a few minutes later he'd bring it back. And then do it again. And again, leaving the audience in stitches. When friends groan at one of my attempts, I know that if it's not funny the first time, it will likely be funny by the fifth time, and possibly hilarious after the tenth. It's not foolproof, but try it sometime. Humor makes people remember things-use it.